Day Dream

A smooth, fun and funny entertainment, 1949’s MY DREAM IS YOURS,directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Doris Day, alights on Blu-Ray from the Warner Archive Collection. 

Doris Day was one of those Hollywood rarities.  Like contemporary star Danny Kaye, she never climbed the celluloid ladder rung-by-rung to stardom (Kaye worked in the Borscht Belt before hitting Broadway, Day was a band singer, notably for Bob Hope).  Each was immediately starred in a splashy Technicolor confection (Day for Warners, Kaye for Goldwyn), and hit the ground running.  Day (born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff), with her engaging personality, good looks and excellent singing voice became an instant smash in 1948’s Romance on the High Seas, also directed by Curtiz and, like DREAM, costarring Jack Carson.  The fact that she was a really good dramatic actress (Storm Warning, Love Me or Leave Me, The Man Who Knew Too Much) was a bonus that would shortly surface, much to the elation of studio moguls ever on the lookout for that “complete package.”  Day also achieved an almost unbelievable record for a post-WWII actress – remaining a top box-office draw for twenty years!

MY DREAM IS YOURS, as written by Harry Kurnitz and Dane Lussier (adaptation by Allen Rivkin and Laura Kerr, from the original story, Hot Air, by Paul Finder Moss and famed producer Jerry Wald), is a far more fetching vehicle than Seas.  For one thing, it tackled at least a thread of a (then) real-life situation.  Day’s Martha Gibson is a war widow with a young son, striving to make it as a singer.  She works for a live DJ company – an outfit of phone-in juke boxes that to this day I’ll never believe actually existed (you’d plop in your nickel, and request a song from an attached voicebox).

The frame around this narrative is fast-talking likeable Doug Blake (Carson), an agent with Adolphe Menjou’s (aka Thomas Hutchins) talent agency.  Carson, along with his equally likeable fast-talking, Viv (the great Eve Arden), is hell bent to re-sign their biggest star, conceited swooner-crooner Gary Mitchell (an extra sleazy dose of Lee Bowman, so slimy that even his usual lounge lizard mustache opted to not appear).  Mitchell is a bit sadistic, too, and delights in torturing Blake before revealing he’s ditching the folks who made him a household name for a better deal.

This puts everyone in a tizzy until Carson’s frazzled character takes a deep breath, and goes out to find a new singer to be  groomed for (hopefully) bigger stardom.  Cue up, “Hello, my name is Doris.”

The shenanigans that this bunch goes through (countless auditions, nitery dives, and basic survival) is trademark self-deprecating Warners cynicism – a middle-class specialty for the studio.  In Curtiz’s more than capable hands, it’s often hilarious, with nevertheless some genuine pangs of pathos on the side.  This is all superbly adorned by a supporting cast of comic and iconic pros, who don’t disappoint:  S.Z Sakall, Franklin Pangborn, Edgar Kennedy (his final role, released posthumously), Sheldon Leonard, Frankie Carle, Ada Leonard, Selena Royle, Iris Adrian, Chester Clute, Marion Martin, Tris Coffin, James Flavin, Sandra Gould, Hank Mann, and Leo White.

Like Seas, DREAM is lavishly produced and photographed in ebullient Technicolor by two masters of the craft, Ernest Haller and Wilfrid Cline.  The fact that Day’s son (Duncan Richardson) is a Bugs Bunny addict (who isn’t?) gets an added perk via a Friz Freleng-directed sequence of the beloved character (vocals, natch, by Mel Blanc) interacting with Day and Carson (a la Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh).

What’s fascinating about MY DREAM IS YOURS is the movie’s historical context.  Sure, it’s wonderful to see shots of Los Angeles in 1949 Technicolor, but it’s the spritz of reality on the music industry walls that offers a telling sidebar:  the steady demise of the Big Band Era (and, yes, Bowman deservedly gets his just desserts; apropos, his swanky apartment was culled from leftovers constructed the previous year for Hitchcock’s Rope; WB never wasted nuthin’!). For Warners, DREAM likewise represented their current state:  the bombastic studio head Jack, having caused two extraordinary suits to split (first Darryl Zanuck, then Hal Wallis), forced many a “yes-man” to simply re-channel old product into modern projects; MY DREAM IS YOURS is, in part, constructed from bits lifted from 1934’s 20 Million Sweethearts.  For Day, the movie always held a soft spot in her heart, as it mirrored the artist’s touring dates that often resulted in leaving her real-life adolescent son, Terry, behind.

The new Blu-Ray of MY DREAM IS YOURS is terrific, finally approaching a genuine rendition of the 1949 Technicolor visuals (when shown in color throughout the 1970s-1990s, it too often looked pale, as in pallor).  The mono audio is standard Warners, which means dynamic and buoyant, with an array of tuneful songs by (mostly) Ralph Blaine, including the title track, plus “Someone Like You,”
Love Finds a Way,” “I’ll String Along with You,” and “Canadian Capers.” Two thoroughly bizarre entries reflecting the times are “Tic, Tic, Tic,” a merry ode to the feelings of love and A-bomb radiation poisoning, and, the equally similarly jaw-dropping “Nagasaki,” which is self-explanatory.

But there’s way more.  The Warner Archive Collection has truly stacked the deck, essentially creating a complete 1949 night at the movies that includes two shorts by director Richard Bare:  one a riotous Joe McDoakes comedy So You Want to be an Actor and a totally strange item entitled The Grass is Always Greener (the latter nominated for an Oscar); an added cherry on top is A Ham in a Role, a great Robert McKimson Technicolor WB cartoon featuring the Goofy Gophers.

For those who harbor a jones for nostalgic, musical comedy (with a sprinkling of snarkasm), you can’t go wrong with MY DREAM IS YOURS.  Besides, how often do you get to see Franklin Pangborn AND Edgar Kennedy in Technicolor?

MY DREAM IS YOURS. Color. Full frame [1.37:1; 1080p High Definition]; 2.0 DTS-HD MA. Warner Archive Collection/Warner Bros. Entertainment/Turner Entertainment Co. CAT # 1000797618.  SRP: $21.99.

Available from the Warner Archive Collection:  http://www.wbshop.com/warnerarchive or online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays® are sold.

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